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How to talk to teenagers?

As any parent can attest, trying to communicate with your teenagers is like trying to keep an avalanche from occuring. The smallest of things can set them off, whether it’s in a fit of anger, tears, or insecurity. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Hormonal changes and growth spurts are expected and normal, so there are plenty of methods you can implement to make the process a lot smoother for everyone involved. Here are 5 tricks to carrying on in a peaceful home:

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#1 Don’t Judge Their Phases

Remember when you were a teenager and you had a different identity every week? One week you were goth, the next, you were preppy? Well, it’s normal for every teenager to go through crazy fashion and personality experimentation. This is the stage when they’re desperately trying to learn who they are, and what their place in the world is. And most importantly, it’s when they’re trying to fit in.

The best thing you can do as a parent is to accept that and carry on. The common language here is acceptance and understanding (respect), because you’ve been there. Encourage the self-discovery process, don’t fight it - unless it starts to get a little out of hand!

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#2 Brushing Up On Slang

If you don’t know that memes are, or what any acronyms mean, like “TIL” (today I learned), or “TBH” (to be honest), then you need to brush up on teen talk. Everything from abbreviations to the trendy words. Even if you don’t use them on a daily basis (please, don’t), this allows you to keep up with what they’re talking about in person and online.

More so, it’s nice for them to hear you drop a word, use it correctly, and naturally! Don’t overdo it, just one or two words you happen to like, but don’t overuse them. Instead, think of it as you gently reminding them that you have some spunk, and that you’re amazing. Duh!

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#3 Understanding Body Language

It’s PSYCH 101 material, so pull out your 1970-80’s college textbook! Remember when you were taught about body language? When people lie, they avoid eye contact, and opt for looking up and to their right (your left). When someone is nervous, they may fidget, their hands get clammy, and they tend to immerse themselves in something else, like their phones, a magazine, or running around doing several things at once. This is them trying to distract themselves, so they don’t succumb to the terrible gut-wrenching fear of something.

The point being that sometimes you don’t need to even say a word to better communicate with your teenagers. Sometimes, it’s enough to pay attention to their mannerisms. And if you sense anguish, reach over and give them a nice squeeze on the shoulders! You don’t need to say anything, just be there, and let them know you’re around to talk - if they want.

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#4 I Was Your Age Once

There’s jokes about this one. The classic line everyone has heard from at least one of their parents: “I was your age once.” It’s typically used right before a pretty lame story about their more youthful days.

And yes, it’s exactly the moment that your teen gets that glazed over look in their eyes and starts daydreaming of pizza, clothing trends, movies, or something that happened at school.

But the trick to making this tactic work is to only bust out a story when it’s actually a really good one. Then you a) don’t kill the method, and b) establish that you were, and still are, awesome.

So, maybe don’t tell the story about you and Sally skipping class to go get coffee. Instead, tell them about an awesome concert you attended in college.

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#5 Practice This Basic Relationship Advice

The dynamic with your teenagers is a relationship, albeit a different one than the one you have with your partner. However, some of the same tips and tricks can be applied to both.

For instance, in a romantic relationship, trust is key, and it’s the same between you and your children. They will tell you things if you prove yourself understanding and trustworthy. It doesn’t mean you can’t discipline them, it just means you aren’t the kind to jump to conclusions and react poorly without listening to any details first.

The same goes for things like quality time. Just like your partner needs time with you and only you, so do your children.

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